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Hula Hoops and Tinker Toys Copyright © 1995, Nancy VanWormer All rights reserved

                Hula Hoops and Tinker Toys
                   by Nancy VanWormer

When I was small, we didn't have this problem. It wasn't available to us (mere children) and if it were, we wouldn't have had the money anyway. Then one day, in school, no less, we were introduced to them. By our teacher.

Oh, the glory of them! They tried to show us that only "stupid" people played with hula hoops and tinker toys. But, in doing so, they made it most attractive. Their so-called bad boys were the cutest and most popular. The girls were the prettiest. They showed them having great fun, while nerdish (even back in those days) kids looked on disaprovingly.

The nerds got good grades and listened to their parents. The hula hoop crowd, slowly disintegrated into the scum of society.

What? From merely playing with hula hoops and tinker toys? How can it be so? They have already showed us the joys of playing with them. We couldn't ask our parents, because they didn't know anything about it.

So we grew. And as we matured, we became more enchanted with hula hoops and tinker toys, until the day finally came when we could play with them ourselves.

What a great day. These toys opened new worlds to us! We saw every day life in a whole new way. Mysteries of the universe were being unveiled to us.

The funny part was that we shared them. We never stole, or killed somebody over our toys. There was always somebody willing to share with us! We were always willing to share with others. It was like a secret family. We were brothers and sisters together.

As we grew our tastes grew also. We wanted more advanced toys. Toys made for adults. They were a bit more expensive, and harder to master, but we did it. We were in control.

Then one day, as young adults, some of us "grew up". We realized that we could not play with our hula hoops and tinker toys forever, and that there were other things in life to do. Things that were more important maybe? So we slowly weaned ourselves from our toys, and developed.

And as we did, we watched the few that decided that hula hoops and tinker toys were what they wanted most out of life. They stayed children, playing with their toys, while the rest of us went on to better things. It is funny, now, when we look at those lost children, we still see the innocence in them, but it is surrounded by an old person's body. They seemed to have aged outwardly much faster than we did. Oh, they still have the same beards and long hair, but it is peppered with grey and started to thin out. They still wear the same style clothes, I wonder where they buy them. The years of playing with hula hoops and tinker toys have taken their toll.

Now we have children of our own. Our children don't want to play with our toys, they have their own, more advanced and technological versions of our toys. They have roller blades and boomboxes.

The toys are different, dangerous. They were made to be dangerous. They have a power over people and are even capable of killing them. Their sole purpose is to hurt. They were made by different people than made our hula hoops and tinker toys. They were made for a different reason.

The kids are different. They are not playing with their toys the same way that we did. They are very protective of them, and will do anything to get more. They lie, cheat, steal and even kill to be able to play with their roller blades and boomboxes.

We are scared for our children in a way that our parents never were. We played with hula hoops and tinker toys, and we know the power that is in them. But our children, our babies, are playing with something more potent. Can they handle it? We handled it, but it was a different time, with different kids, and different toys.

We have to take care not to push them towards it like we were. After all, these are not hula hoops and tinker toys, the "toys of choice" of the peace generation. These are roller blades and boomboxes!!

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